Chef Dez: Culinary resolutions for 2016

Ah, the start of a fresh year. What better time is there to make a pact with oneself to start anew? In the position of a culinary instructor, I encounter many situations with people wanting to improve areas of the culinary arts within their home kitchens and lifestyles. If you are undecided about making a resolution, contemplate making one focusing on the culinary aspect in your life.

The most common culinary resolution would be one of dietetic and health boundaries. Many people have the aspiration to start the New Year with a promise of either losing weight or getting in better physical shape. The change in what you consume on a daily basis will obviously influence your success, or lack there of. Try making a resolution to yourself to investigate low fat, low carbohydrate, and/or high protein cooking. This promise will involve educating yourself in these areas, and putting the acquired information into practice. Go to the library, research the Internet, buy a cookbook, and take a cooking class.

Maybe a more suited resolution would be to revamp the state of your pantry and the food supply in your kitchen. Perhaps you have always wanted to have a pantry that is more focused on your favorite cuisines. For example, someone who loves Italian and Greek cuisine would stock their pantry with varying types of olives, capers, tomatoes, grape leaves, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, etc. The refrigerator and freezer can also be coordinated to contain the perishables of the same cuisine. Motivation to focus more on cooking certain cuisines in your household will start with having the ingredients at your fingertips. One can even take this to the extreme in organization by creating labels and segregating areas in your pantry for different food groupings.

The simplest of all culinary resolutions however, would be to blow dust off your cookbooks and start making some new dishes. Whether it is of small or large proportions, we all have collections of cookbooks… with many of them going unused. Make it a goal in your home to open up a cookbook once or twice a week, and try a new recipe. If you choose to do this, make sure you are setting yourself up for success. Decide on and investigate the recipe prior to the date you plan on making it. Purchase the ingredients ahead of time, and ensure that you have the basic equipment and utensils necessary to successfully complete the task at hand. This will help eliminate any stress that you may encounter during preparation.

“Attitude is everything”. This is the best advice I can give you. Whatever you approach in life, from making a resolution, making new friends or making a new recipe, proceed in a positive fashion. You will always find what you are searching for. If you look for the positives in something or someone, you will always find them. The same applies if you are seeking out negatives. Be aware of what you are looking for and your experience will always be more rewarding.

Dear Chef Dez:

I noticed in your “Healthy Choices” class, you mention that you had a significant weight loss years ago within a 6-month period. How did you do it?

Tony R., Abbotsford

Dear Tony,

I did this by exercising and limiting fat grams and sugar – I didn’t count calories. The more lean muscle mass a body has, the more calories the body will burn – even when sleeping. Therefore, going to the gym is extremely important. Calories are energy and too many times prior I wasted my efforts limiting them too extensively in my total food intake. Without enough calories in my diet, I never had enough energy to maintain a regular exercise program.

Please keep in mind that I am not a dietician or medical professional. Everybody is different and I believe that a successful method exists for everyone.


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